Cape Town - The family of James Small have again asked for privacy following the tragic sudden passing of the former Springbok legend.
The South African sporting fraternity was shocked on Wednesday when news broke that Small had died at the age of 50.
Following the completion of the autopsy on Friday afternoon, the cause of death was reported as 'ischaemic heart disease'.
Small played 47 Tests for the Springboks between 1992 and 1997 and scored 20 tries.
He was also part of the Springbok team that won the 1995 Rugby World Cup on home soil.
Small is the fourth member of that Springbok party to have passed away - coach Kitch Christie died from cancer in 1998, flank Ruben Kruger died from brain cancer in 2010 and scrumhalf Joost van der Westhuizen from motor neurone disease in 2017.
The family released a second statement late on Saturday, urging media and the public to respect their privacy, especially that of Small’s two children.
‘Given how well-known James was, we understand the media and public interest. The James we know made mistakes. Yes, he battled tough times. Who hasn’t? However, he took responsibility for those mistakes – the many journalists who interviewed him, and all his teammates and friends will attest to this. James’s legacy speaks for itself.’
‘As his family, our sole concern right now are his two young children, who are shocked and devastated. To lose your father suddenly is traumatic enough without the added pressure they are getting from certain sectors.
‘We again seriously request that the children and the family’s privacy be respected by the media.
‘James lived his life in the public eye. His children did not.
‘The coroner and police have confirmed that James died from a heart attack. No foul play is suspected. This is surely where the public’s ‘need-to-know’ should end.
‘We will not dignify any other stories or rumours with a response and will not be making any further comment.
‘We have a funeral to plan and the life of a hero – a man we loved – to celebrate.’
Small’s funeral will be held on Thursday, July 18 at 14:00 in Johannesburg. The venue will be confirmed on Monday.
"All mourners will be welcome," the family spokesperson added.
So sad that at a time like this, a time of mourning and true sadness at the loss of a loved one, a statement likes this needs to be issued to ask that the Small family’s privacy be respected. Please... pic.twitter.com/5s0tto0Ngg— Joel Stransky (@stranners) July 13, 2019